Its not possible to do an ultra marathon swim without the help and support of others. A runner could train for a marathon without ever running with another person. Marathon swimming is different mostly because of safety considerations. Its not really advisable to swim alone unless you are a very experienced swimmer and can creatively adapt to changing water and weather conditions.
I’m a bit of an introvert so I don’t necessarily always seek out others to do stuff. But with training, it makes a difference when I can swim with others. A couple of laughs before getting in the water or exchanging a mermaid hug at a buoy make the training go faster and its more fun. I’m always grateful for a friendly exchange before, during or after a training swim.
The 42 weeks to train for Loch Ness have gone by fast although there were some weeks when it felt like slog. But, some of my training workouts have been full of surprises like swimming into someone in San Francisco's Aquatic Park that I haven’t seen in 6 months (it’s a big cove). Or the conversation I had in the sauna in San Francisco with someone who swam in Loch Ness.
My favorite surprise was during my 10K Donner Lake swim a few weeks ago. Donner is at 6,000 ft elevation and I was feeling the lack of oxygen. Despite the gorgeous setting, it didn't start out as my most fun swim. But, at the end of my first sweep along the shore, I swam over a message left by some romantic . J♡ M was spelled out in rocks on the bottom. It completely stopped me mid stroke. I was so surprised that someone took the time and effort gather rocks and lay out this message for some mermaid or merman. I totally shifted how I felt about the rest of that training swim. I swam over that message 10 times and smiled every time.
My journey to swim Loch Ness has been about the physical training as its been about digging deep and expressing what is in my heart . I love the challenge of the swim but I’m even more passionate about helping the kids and this is totally true to my heart.